The following story serves as a lesson in common sense for corporations everywhere: don't cover up how much money you donate to judicial candidates.
This is especially true if the judicial candidate you donated money to ends up voting in your favor in a billion-dollar case.
State Farm Insurance is learning this lesson the hard way.
State Farm allegedly gave campaign donations to Judge Lloyd Karmeier during one of the nation's most expensive judicial races in 2004.
Judge Karmeier won that race, and became a member of the Illinois Supreme Court.
He also voted to overturn a billion-dollar verdict against State Farm in 2005.
At the time, it was known that Judge Karmeier received donations from State Farm during his judicial race. Karmeier declined to recuse himself.
The State Supreme Court analyzed the potential bias at the time, and found none. They thought State Farm had only raised $350,000 of Karmeier's donations.
Why would they think State Farm only raised $350,000? That's because $350,000 is the amount that State Farm told the court they donated when they were asked.
An FBI investigation discovered that State Farm actually donated between $2.4 and $4 million in donations for Karmeier's judicial campaign.
The startling amount of donations contributed by State Farm certainly paints Karmeier's ruling in a different light. It also creates a much bigger chance that the Judge Karmeier wasn't impartial.
Several attorneys, including former U.S. senator Fred Thompson, have filed a class action suit against State Farm. They claim that the insurance company defrauded the court. They're asking that the court reconsider its decision to overturn the $1 billion verdict, according to the Chicago Tribune.
So, State Farm, are you regretting your judicial campaign donations now?
- Lawyers: State Farm covered up support of candidate in most expensive judicial race in U.S. history (BND)
- Attorney Loses Judicial Campaign, Then His Job (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Campaign Contributions Fallout for Target, Gilt (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)